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Britain's Nuclear Bomb Veterans To Undergo DNA Tests

The veterans claim that the prolonged exposure to radiation caused cancers, fertility problems and birth defects passed down the generations...

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Some of the veterans that were sent to the South Pacific to test nuclear bombs hope that a new DNA examination will prove these tests were responsible for their ill health.

Samples of their DNA will be taken as part of a new three-year research at the UK's first Centre for Health Effects of Radiological and Chemical Agents.

In order to avoid bias, veterans will not be able to volunteer for the study, but will be selected using military service records and publicly available information.

Scientists will then look for possible genetic damage and will analyse their families' blood tests, as well as theirs.

According to the BBC, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) maintains there is no valid evidence to link participation in the nuclear tests to ill health.

Bob Fleming was one of 22,000 men stationed in Australia and Christmas Island to test atomic and hydrogen explosions between 1952 and 1958.

At 24, his job was to witness one of the most powerful weapons detonate on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean.

The now 83-year-old said believes that decades of deformities in his family have been caused by his prolonged exposure to radiation. He said:

"We have been told that it won't leave my family for 500 years by professors."

"These illnesses have just kept creeping up on us. It either hits my family when they are born or later in life but there always seems to be something.

"My great-granddaughter was as fit as a fiddle but one night she was crying in pain of a stomach ache and they found one of her ovaries was enlarged and they had to remove it."

"She was only 11 years old and they had to take something out of her."

All three generations of his family have been affected. He says 16 out of 21 of his descendants have had birth defects or health problems.

Other veterans also claim that the nuclear tests caused cancers, fertility problems and birth defects.

Fewer than 3,000 nuclear veterans are still alive today, and the UK is the only nuclear power to deny them recognition and compensation.

The veterans took their case for compensation to the Supreme Court and lost in 2012.

They were told they would face great difficulty proving the link between their health circumstances and the tests.

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